This is default featured slide 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

INSIDE LOOK: The Burdens and Blessings of Singleness

My long-time friend Kim, who helped me plan my announcement for my second pregnancy, and has virtually walked alongside me through MANY life changes, is a single 27-year-old woman. (I say virtually because we literally met online and have not -yet- met in person.) We have talked before, and I've read her writings, about the journey of a single woman who deeply desires to be married.

I invited Kim to write this month's firsthand account on the "first" of November, for Making Home's monthly "Inside Look" feature. Here's what she wanted to share with us:

I am actually a little proud of myself.

When Jess asked me about doing a guest blog entry on Making Home, I thought I would be able to write a deep, philosophical, heart wrenching article that would make all of you want to set me up on a date, because how can a creature so wonderful still be single? (I use sarcasm as a crutch. Embrace it. And oh - I will still take those dates, thanks.) But as I was looking back through my own blog for inspiration, I found an entry that kind of struck me, and I wanted to share:

I am TIRED of living out this reality - it feels like it is parallel to the one I think I should be living. I want to be married, working a regular old 9-5 job in an office, or more importantly, staying home with my kids. I want to be able to stay in Louisville and eat dinner with my family on Wednesday nights and go to church at the church where I grew up, and go on double dates with my brother and sister-in-law, and raise my kids with their cousins. But guess what? I can't have that life.

Now, I didn’t go out and get a husband and I have not had any children since June. But you know what I did? I made a choice that God gave me to make, and I am getting part of my dream - I moved home, and I am eating dinner with my family on Wednesday nights.

The above paragraph, however, also does illustrate what it is like, living a life that is a complete and total opposite from what you thought you’d do. I mean - in high school, I had it all planned out - married right out of college, three kids (one girl, two boys), and I’d stay home. We would travel and raise our kids in church and we’d spend the rest of our lives growing old together. (We being me and high school boyfriend. Just FYI.) In reality, I’ve struggled with having a broken heart and a relationship that was outside of God’s design. I’ve struggled with years of singleness when all my heart’s desire was to be married. I have struggled with being a bridesmaid in six (SIX! Twice I was the Maid of Honor) of my friends’ weddings, and being at the hospital through several births. Many of my friends are at least on their second child, or trying to be, by now. And while I most certainly celebrate with those friends and try to rejoice with those who rejoice, and while I would never wish that my friends did not have their husbands or children - I just wish I had that too.

I don’t think people who are on the other side realize what it’s like for those of us behind the fence. Perhaps that’s not fair, but that’s how it feels to be there. It’s like waiting for a plane to vacation, where everyone else is, and not knowing when the plane is going to arrive, or if it is. And yet you keep getting reports of how great it is to be on that vacation, and that when you get there, the wait is worth it. And you believe the people - you believe that it will be so amazing to be on this vacation, but you really doubt that you’re going to end up on the vacation, or worse yet, you fear everyone else will be done with vacation by the time you get there…

There are definitely blessings on this side of the journey, lest I lead you to believe otherwise. The biggest blessing is getting to be there for my niece and nephew, and getting to love on them and spoil them and watch them grow. I know that if I had my own children, my focus would be on them, and so for this time, I am very, very thankful. I can’t imagine loving any other kids more than I love those two! I am also thankful for the time to be under the teaching and example of some very wise, God-fearing women, and learning different approaches to being a godly wife and mother. I hope someday I can put them into practice.

I think perhaps the worst thing about being single, and perhaps the thing I want Jess’s readers to take away from this, is the exclusion factor. Not being a wife and not being a mother excludes me from really understanding the life of about 90 percent of my closest friends. (I have one single girlfriend over the age of 20. ONE. And she’s 30, and in the same boat I am in.) I know a lot about birth and pregnancy, mainly because of my own curiosity and study, and I know a lot about weddings, having helped plan or participated in so many. But of course, I don’t really know. I don’t really know what it’s like to join my life with someone else’s, for the purpose of bringing glory to the Lord and bringing up godly children.

That said - the exclusion makes a girl feel inadequate. Sure, those are often the core issues of womanhood, and I am so thankful for that! But just because I haven’t been there doesn’t mean I don’t want to understand. So when you come upon a single woman, especially one who is a little older, desires marriage and kids, and is biding her time - please take her under your wing. Take the time to teach her about wifehood and motherhood. Let her get to know and love your children. Include her in groups with other married women/mothers. It’s so important to a woman to know that she is still “valid” as a woman, and still has important things to contribute and to learn, even though she has not yet arrived. I am so thankful for my sweet friend and mentor, Amy, who is so gracious in allowing me to learn from her!

Another thing I would suggest to do if you have single women in your life is to pray with them and for them. Pray for them that God would strengthen their faith in this time of uncertainty, that He would give them grace to face situations that are sure to be emotionally challenging, and that He would reshape the desires of their heart, if that is His will. Also pray for them that God will provide for them a godly, loving, and kind husband in His perfect timing (but it is okay to pray that God’s timing is quick!). Pray with them for difficulties they are facing and for emotional challenges. Pray with them that they would not be idle and sad, but that they would use this time to work hard for the Kingdom!

Finally - a very important thing is to be sensitive. Obviously you cannot shield any single friends you might have from heartache - but know that heartache is often an underlying constant in her life. Feel free to ask if she’s okay. Know that she’s heard all the typical lines before, and know that she sometimes does need reminders! Know that sometimes, it’s hard. All of it. Just love her anyway, and know she doesn’t mean to be a grump.

I hope, for those of you who are married and/or do have children, that this gives a little insight into the life of at least one woman who is sad she’s not. I definitely don’t speak for every single woman - there are many out there more godly than me! - but I do know that some of these feelings are common. And I am so thankful that I have women in my life like Jess who want to understand. When I sit and really think about my life, I am indeed pretty blessed.

Kim's online "home" is her blog, Strange Kind of Single. I'm so thankful to call her my friend, and to have the opportunity to learn from her.

I hope that you, if you are a married woman, also learned some ways that you can encourage and be a friend to the single woman around you. As always, any thoughts or comments you'd like to share on this issue would be welcome!

Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I've got a new poll up- it goes along with the series we're in the middle of ("How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex"). I thought it would be interesting to get a "feel" for how most of us were told about sex/intimacy.

Here are the options:
  • My parents gave me TOO much information (personal details, descriptions, etc.). I wish I would have known LESS.
  • My parent(s) gave me an appropriate introduction to sexuality. It may not have been perfect, but they did a pretty good job.
  • My parent(s) did the best they could, but I wouldn't do it the same way.
  • I got a clinical/biological description with no love or enjoyment as part of the discussion.
  • My parent(s) gave inaccurate information (babies come from storks, kissing gets you pregnant, etc.). I had to get my "real" sex ed from other sources.
  • My parent(s) gave me a lecture, and made me feel that sex was wrong or bad.
  • I heard absolutely nothing about sex from my parent(s). Whatever I learned, I learned from other sources (friends, TV, etc.).
  • I was sexually abused as a child and that was my introduction to sexuality.
  • Other (please leave an answer, even anonymously)

I tried to cover most of the bases, but already have realized that there may be some I didn't "hit". As always, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share everything on your mind... (don't worry about "writing a book") And since this is a sensitive subject, anonymous comments will be published. So let me hear from you- How were YOU told about sex when you were young?

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Glimpse of the Future: Abortion Museums

This excerpt was taken from an article in the UK Telegraph, in which a man considers future opinions of abortion, after getting an invitation to attend the opening of a slavery exhibition:

"I found myself wondering how abortion will be viewed by museum curators, teachers, historians and moralists 200 years from now.

As the slavery exhibition shows, something that one generation accepts readily enough is often seen as abhorrent by its descendants – so abhorrent, in fact, that people find it almost impossible to understand how it could have been countenanced in a supposedly civilised society.

How could people not see that Africans should not be bought and sold for the convenience of our trade or our domestic life? We reserve particular scorn for those who sought to justify slavery on moral grounds. We look at the moral blindness of the past, and tut-tut, rather complacently.

It is not hard to imagine how a future Museum of London exhibition about abortion could go. It could buy up a 20th-century hospital building as its space, and take visitors round, showing them how, in one ward, staff were trying to save the lives of premature babies while, in the next, they were killing them.

It could compare the procedure by which the corpse of a baby who had died after or during premature birth was presented by the hospital to the mother to assist with grieving, with the way a similar corpse, if aborted, was thrown away.

It could display the various instruments that were used to remove and kill the foetus, rather as the manacles and collars of slaves can be seen today.

It could make a telling show of the propaganda that was used to promote abortion – the language of choice, control of a woman over her own body – and compare it with less happy information about the infertility caused by abortion, or depression or about the link between breast cancer and having an abortion before the birth of the first child.

It could show how women, vulnerable and often alone, came under pressure from the medical authorities to have an abortion without being offered help with the alternative.

The museum could make a pretty devastating contrast between the huge growth of rights for the disabled, which began in the late-20th century, and the fact that the disability (or even mild deformity) of a child was always grounds for abortion.

Just as, today, we are invited to glare at the Georgian portraits of fat, bewigged English sugar planters or pro-slavery politicians, there could be a rogues' gallery of pro-abortionists.


"But the reason I throw this argument into the future is that, with the passage of time, abortion, especially late abortion, is slowly coming to be seen as a "solution" dating from an era that is passing. It will therefore be discredited.

Partly it is the effect of technology. My wife and I still have the video of the scan of our twins at about 18 weeks. You can see heads and limbs. That was in 1989. It bears the same relation to the technology today as do silent, black and white films to modern Hollywood hyper-realism.

Nowadays, it is even more visible and undeniable, as it was not to the first generation of people who had legal abortions, that what you are removing is human – human, though usually not in independent form, like you and I.

It is also visible that this human entity is alive, and therefore that, by removing it, you are taking life.

You may say that this physical image should not make a difference to the moral case, but in practice it does. The famous anti-slavery image was of a black man in chains, on his knees, saying, "Am I not a man and a brother?"

It was powerful because it used the physical to make a direct moral appeal: this person is essentially like you in body and soul, so why do you deny him the rights which you demand for yourself? To see a foetus in the womb is to experience the same appeal.

If you want to do people wrong, you must first undermine the idea that they are people. The Nazis called Jews rats. The Hutu in Rwanda called the Tutsis cockroaches. Pseudo-Darwinian views promoted ideas about racial purity or mental or physical health which allowed those who lacked these qualities to be seen as "inferior stock".

One of the good moral trends of our time has been to reject this way of looking at things. Instead, we insist, in the great debate about what it means to be human, that weakness is not a disqualification, but, by a famous Christian paradox, a strength.

Abortion runs against this trend, and so civilisation will eventually reject it, as once it rejected slavery."

Wanted to share this with you all, with such sadness in my heart.

If you've been to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. , you know the kind of horror he's talking about: walking through a railroad car once used to haul Jews to concentration camps... seeing clothes worn by people who were murdered... seeing pictures, images, relics... it is indeed, not difficult to imagine the horror of our own great-grandchildren when they consider how many lives have been lost to this "choice", the holocaust of our generation.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Show & Tell: Fun Finds For October


  • Trucks, trucks, trucks!: One of the funny things of parenting opposite-sex children
  • Just For the Record... : Mandi's vent about people who ask, "so are you going to try for a boy?" (just a few weeks after her third girl was born!)
  • Renee had two great posts last week that go together about adoption... TODDLER ADOPTION and ATTACHMENT IN ADOPTION
  • Christine had a "siderant" on one of her posts that I thought was worth cutting and pasting for you to read. Here it is... and it's one of the reasons I love the homeschooling curriculum we use:
    The reason why children hearing books read aloud to them by a parent or listening to an audio book format is good rather than forcing them to only read or be exposed to books that they read to themselves is mainly because children, if allowed to move or do what they want while listening, are willing to listen and can understand content far above their independent reading level. A child's vocabulary and ability to understand and enjoy stories and non-fiction information is superior to their reading skills for a number of years. It starts nearly at birth or at least at about age one, when the language they can understand is above what they can speak. I don't know when it ends, perhaps only when a child or teenager's reading ability progresses beyond a certain 'grade level in reading ability' such as grade 12, I don't know.

    An easy example is that a child of age six who is just learning to read will listen to long passages about insects with rich vocabulary and understand it. If you were to give that child a book on spiders written at their independent reading level it would read something like this:

    "Spiders make webs. Spiders eat insects. The web is to catch the insects. Spiders live outside. Some spiders live indoors."

    You probably would not speak to a child of six in that way as it would be considered (at least in our family) as being patronizing and condescending. A child of six years old is not an idiot and should not be talked to like they are one.

    Giving a child of six over-simplified information like that which is below their mental capacities is one way that I feel that adults actually, unintentionally, 'make a child stupid'. All children should be exposed to content which they want to learn about that is interesting and understandable to them. Depriving children of information or to better stories dumbs a child down and hinders their intellectual development.


  • The Love of Money: HelpMeet writes a thought-provoking article about materialism
  • Huckabee's Boomlet: The NY Post offers a great summary of Huckabee's recent growth in polls, finances, and popularity.
  • Slate Interview with Huckabee: Mike Huckabee explains why he's surging
  • Free Rice: I can't remember where I heard about this, but it's a vocabulary game where for each word you get correctly, rice is donated through the UN to end world hunger. It's FREE! And it's RICE! IT'S FREE RICE! (Last night I played for 5 or 10 minutes and got up to around 400 grains of rice donated.)
Didn't have anything particularly side-splitting funny today, so we'll end this Show & Tell with Free RICE. :) HAPPY READING!!!

The Ministry of Hospitality

From Open Hearts, Open Home:
"I have discovered that even an innate inclination to hospitality must be honed and refined, imbrued and filled if it is to be more than concern about centerpieces, menus, table settings, and spotless rooms.

For Christians, hospitality is a marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit given so that we may minister to this dying society. If our hospitality is to minister, to impart to each who crosses our threshold something of the presence of Christ--if it is to transcend the human and deal in the supernatural--there must be an agony of growth, a learning, a tutoring hand of the Holy Spirit. For some, hospitality is as natural as breathing. For others, the practice must be acquired. For all, it must be nurtured."
When we ditch the Martha Stewart, TLC, keep-up-with-the-trends sort of housekeeping and entertaining model, and instead begin to think of hospitality in terms of serving and loving others, and creating an atmosphere where Christ can be clearly seen as supremely valuable (to borrow a phrase from John Piper, in his "Don't Waste Your Life" sermon), it becomes much less pretentious and overwhelming. Don't you think?

At the same time, it presents an even deeper and difficult responsibility on our part, to have homes that are welcoming, content, and simple yet challenging, just as Christ Himself was. Having an inviting and open home is something we can do in direct obedience to the Word of God (Matthew 25 and Hebrews 13), as a ministry of significance and value, regardless of what "stage" of life we're in. As women, we want our homes to look lovely and inviting, and it can be embarrassing when things are a royal mess... and yet, we must not let this goal of tidiness or presentation become an idol that takes priority over this basic welcoming spirit we're to have in the name of Jesus Christ.

I'm learning some new things about hospitality, and hope these things I'm learning might challenge and encourage you, too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Make Me Smile

Wow! My friend Theresa at Garden Antiques has nominated me for a You Make Me Smile Award! This is especially fabulous coming from her because I love her blog and all the awesome pictures she shares with all of us! You must save her in your favorites and check back often to see what she's been up to. She never disappoints! Now I must nominate ten wonderful women whose blogs make me smile. So here they are:
1. Garden Antiques~Of Course! She Rocks!
2. Past Present Collection~Awesome Style!
3. Curious Sofa~If you are familiar with her, then I needn't say more!
4. Prairie Home~Another awesome stylish star!
5. The Feathered Nest~Dawn is truly the sweetest person ever, and great style!
6. Dove Grey Studio~Truly an artist! Love it!
7. Coeur En Provence~A nod to the European influence I love!
8. The French Garden House~Wow what a flair!
9. The Cottage Gals~Wish I could visit your shop!
10. Sadie Olive~Check out her house! Wow!

Blessings to All!


Grow Mint in a Bottle

You can easily grow mints in water using a bottle or jar. Keep them in a sunny window, provide them with some liquid fertilizer, and change their water weekly. By spring they will be ready to plant out in the garden just in time for Derby day mint juleps.Remember to put them out after the last threat of frost has past. Even if you are planning to make them houseplants, spending some time out of

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Finishing Well

Last night, we finished up Peter Jackson's "The Return of the King", the final video in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In it, King Theoden, one of the kings of men, is attacked in the final battle of men and lies dying when his niece, Eowyn, finds him and embraces him. As tears slip down her cheeks, he tells her, "I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed."

You see, there had been a time when, if Theoden HAD died, he would have felt shame. For a portion of his life, he had given in to evil. And even after being freed from the strongholds of evil, when he had begun walking in truth and life, he had still been fearful in his heart. He had run from battle with the enemy, instead of being strong enough to attack the enemy. But having gone into battle against the enemy with the King of Kings, once he lay dying, he knew he would no longer be ashamed to meet his ancestors.

The writer of Hebrews warns us about not becoming satisfied with lukewarmness, and uses the awareness of our "fathers" and their eyes on our lives as motivation to press on:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
We are not to just live mediocre "just get by" lives, where we just mark time from Sunday to Sunday, and try not let the enemy gain ground. We are to be on the OFFENSE, not the defense. Matthew 16:18 says that the gates of Hell will not be able to prevail, or withstand, the church... we are not to be passive.

We are not to take a backseat in the battle against the enemy who is at work in this world. You might say, "well, I'm not a preacher," or "my husband isn't even a Christian". Or, "I'm a young mom- I'm already used up and maxed out." Or, "I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I may not be the best Christian, but I'm plugging along and my kids aren't doing drugs. We're doing pretty well in the whole scheme of things."

But THAT is not the abundant life of a child of God. Our charge is not to just keep things from going bad. We are to be like a light in a dark place... so that everything within our influence is made lighter and more accurately seen by our presence.

I can't speak for you, but King Theoden's words really resonated with me: "I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed." He felt that way because He had stood up and fought against the powerful enemy, even in the face of fear and death.

When I stand in the presence of King Jesus, and am in the company of men like Paul, David, Moses, and Jim Elliot, and women like Esther, Priscilla, Gladys Aylward, I don't want to feel shame for how little of an impact I made on the world around me. I don't want to be ashamed because I never went to war with the enemy.

Consider this, as written by R. Logan and T. Clegg,
"I believe that the enemy divides all people into two categories: those he can ignore, and those he has to fight. I want to be one of those he has to fight."
Strong words. But, truthfully, even though there may be fear in your heart at words like those, don't they also stir up something more courageous and honorable in you? Something in me jumps up and prays,
"Lord, don't let me mark time. Don't let me be ignore-able. Make me a mighty warrior, even if it means that I have a target on my back. Don't let me die unused and having just kept things 'even keel'. Teach me to fight. Teach me to be on the offensive. Teach me how to bring TRUE light to the world you've put me in."
You may not be called to go to Ecuador to a savage tribe like Jim Elliot, and you may not be a Queen with the ear of powerful people, like Esther was. But you are an important warrior in the battle against evil. Whether you see it today or not, God has a strategic purpose for your life. Seek out what purpose He has for you- and think of the strengths He has given you... what might He have made you to do in the place where He put you?

Lord, reveal to each of us what your strategic purpose is for us. Show us what we were made for. Make us brave against the enemy, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that you would have us do. Help us to be useful in this world, so that we might not be ashamed when our time to die arrives. Make us bright-shining lights in the growing darkness of this world. In the powerful name of Jesus, may it be so.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Poll: How Should Christians Talk About Sex?

Over the past year, I've written a lot about sex.

And I've gotten a lot of comments, both publicly, and via e-mail, about the topics I've written about. Most of the feedback has, overwhelmingly, been positive. But I've definitely gotten negative comments as well.

So I thought I'd ask you: how should Christians talk about sex?

Click your answer(s) in the poll
at the top right of the sidebar (you CAN choose multiple answers)... and then leave a comment about what you chose (if you want to). I included answers to represent most of the various comments I've gotten, but if you have something else to say beyond what options I wrote out, click "other" and leave a comment about what you mean. For this post, because it's a sensitive topic, I WILL allow anonymous comments to be published.

Of course, you can share anything you like about this issue... the parameters of discussion that are acceptable to you... what DOES make you feel uncomfortable... what topics you personally would like to see addressed... what topics you think need to be addressed (even if it doesn't apply to you), etc. Anything you want to share on this issue of "how Christians should talk about sex" is welcome.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do You Have Annual Checkups?

In your marriage, that is... do you have them?

I was checking my Bloglines account and came across a Weekend Kindness article asking readers "When Did You Go On Your Last Date?", and asking us to share what we did on that date. Well, our last date happened to be for our 7th anniversary. As I began sharing what we do on our anniversary dates, I realized that it might be something good to share with all of you.

Each year for our anniversary, we do a kind-of marriage "State of the Union" assessment. It's essentially a "checkup" for our marriage. We talk through various areas of our marriage:
  • How are we doing in communication?
  • How is our intimacy? Am I meeting your desires and needs?
  • Spiritually, are we where we should be, as a family, as a couple, and as individuals?
  • How are we doing in our parenting?
  • Are we still working as a team?
  • Is there anything I can do to serve you better in any of these areas?
  • Is there anything you need that you're not getting from me?
And we also do the "year in review" thing... talking about the high and low points of the last year. And just generally processing how things are going in our marriage. It gives us a "line in the sand", so to speak. Here's where we are. This is how far we've come. We end that anniversary date confident that we are each aware of what's going on. Aware of what we each need to work on. Aware of any bad patterns we've fallen into that we need to work together to change. Aware of our top parenting issues/challenges.

I love anniversary dates; it's always extra-special to talk through all these things together.

(And no, my hair isn't already that long. That picture is from LAST October, before I chopped off my hair!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Preparing Our Children, the Halflings, for Spiritual Warfare

My husband and I are currently doing our annual-ish review of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we're halfway through "The Two Towers" right now.

Last night, much of the focus was on two Hobbits (small & simple people, for those of you who, *gasp*, might not be familiar with LOTR), named Merry & Pippin. Long story short, they end up in the care of a talking tree herder (who is a tree of sorts himself), Treebeard. Gandalf, the incredibly powerful White Wizard (good guy), has charged Treebeard with keeping up with them and not letting them fall into enemy hands.

So then, as they're walking through the forest at one point, Treebeard says to the "halflings" in his care:
I told Gandalf I would keep you safe - - and safe is where I'll keep you.

I couldn't help but think of what a picture this is of Christian parenting. We're charged to care for these little "halflings" we've been given. It's only for a season, and even as we care for them and try to keep them from harm, there's a war brewing. The enemy wants to gain control of our little ones, and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy their simple souls.

And yet, then, even as I was thinking on this comparison, it came to mind that later in the film, Treebeard lets these two Hobbits walk into open war with him. Their lives are in danger, and yet he protects them as he can, and they begin to fight alongside him.

What a beautiful picture for Christian parents!

There is a time for walking in the forest with our children, protecting them, planning, keeping them safe, and educating them about the real risks of the battle around us. But then there is a time for walking into the battle with them, letting them fight alongside us, and eventually releasing them to fight as skilled and well-taught warriors in the spiritual battle raging in the world around us. I want to walk as not only a care-taker of my children (protecting them from harm, as far as I am able), but as a mentor and instructor for them- preparing them for their future struggles against the enemy. We fight a crafty adversary, but the One with Whom we stand is far stronger!

There is joy in knowing that however dark the battle gets around us
(birth control given out to middle schoolers, pornography disguised as entertainment, the devaluing of all that is true and right, and all other forms of "advances" the enemy is making in our generation), there is a sure and victorious outcome if we stand on the Lord's side.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Making Hospitality Easier

The mere idea of "hospitality" can make us feel overwhelmed, but it doesn't have to be that way. A little bit of planning and a flexible, laid-back attitude makes entertaining a LOT more fun.

Select and cook meals that are meals geared towards groups.
One mistake I made the first few years of our marriage, when having guests over, was that I tried to cook with each individual in mind (thinking "two pork chops per adult, one pork chop per child" or whatever).

One thing I learned when we lived in China was to make several different dishes and cook for the group. For example, in American-meal terms, this might look like a chicken casserole, with garlic green beans, a salad with optional dressings and a french bread loaf. (For some of you, this all may be obvious, but for me this was insightful.) Chinese meals are designed in such a way that if someone eats more than others, it's no big deal. If an unexpected friend drops by and you want them to join you, it's no problem. But if we have pre-proportioned out how many chicken fillets we'll need for the night, then this sort of openness towards variances in a get-together is much more difficult. So instead of thinking "individual portions", I now think in terms of "group cooking" when hosting friends in our home.

PLANNING: Prepare in advance by compiling a couple of tried-and-true menus for hosting guests.
It can be overwhelming to just "come up" with an appetizing meal on the spur of the moment, particularly when that might involve several different "courses" and trying to think of something appealing to kids AND adults, and something that will feed an entire group without breaking the bank. Something that helps is to compile a list of several stress-free meals that are good, dependable meals to serve to guests. (It's not usually a good idea to try brand new recipes out on a night when you're having guests!) Here are a few ideas you might not have come across:
  • Mom's No-Peek Chicken: Utterly delicious and easy group meal; this was my favorite meal growing up, and it's now a family favorite around here.
  • Cheesy Chicken Soup: Another great main dish, it's great for cold Fall and Winter nights. Serve with lots of bread!
  • Avocado Dressing: VERY delicious salad dressing... toss with a large bowl of salad
  • Gooey Bar: A wonderfully tasty dessert
If you plan out things in advance and have a few well-tested recipes, having friends over won't be near as big a burden, and you'll be able to enjoy the experience much more.

FLEXIBILITY: Don't put the pressure on yourself to have everything perfect.
No one (except maybe the White House) actually has a perfect home, 100% clean and tidy at every moment with flawless meals served in pristine and completely matching dishes. It's OK. Don't strive for perfection- it's unattainable. Instead, focus your energy on having a pleasant attitude and a warm, comfortable spirit in your home. THAT is what your guests will remember most of all... "I really felt welcome and at ease in their home tonight."

It can be fun to serve a delicious meal and have people "ooh" and "aah" over a scrumptious dessert, but what is much more rewarding is to have had another family or several families over and have actually enjoyed the evening. If you can do both, GREAT. But if one has to go, skip the difficult, laborious dessert and enjoy the night with your friends. It's not worth it to stress yourself out over a meal but then not be able to relax. Give yourself the "freedom" to use mis-matched serving bowls, or to have a basic side-dish that's not "gourmet"... enjoy the nights when you have guests over, and you'll begin to find that you're much more willing to extend hospitality more frequently.

One of the hallmarks of the early church was that they shared meals, and they often spent time in each other's homes (see Acts 2 & beyond). Fellowship is a big part of being part of the Body of Christ... and opening up our homes to others enables us to open up our lives to them as well. So for my part, I don't want to stress myself out when trying to live out this aspect of Body life as a believer. I want to enjoy my role as a hostess in our home, and these things help me to have people over to our home with much less stress and much GREATER joy.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you to live out the scriptural ideas of being hospitable and serving others with joy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ADVICE & ANSWERS: Dating Without Direction

A reader sent this question in this week:

This is not my situation, but is happening to a friend of mine, Michelle, and we are perplexed. There is a man at her church that she spends a lot of time with, and they often go to plays, dinner, etc., together. (She's 30, he's maybe 28. They're in the same age range.) They have never "called" their outings dates, but for all intents and purposes, they seem to be.

However, it's been over a year, and no romantic feelings have been expressed, even though my friend has them and it appears the man has them for her. It seems as though he might just be shy about bringing it up, and Michelle's thing is that she doesn't want to be the pursuer in the relationship. She wants to be pursued!

So my question is this: when is it appropriate to "pull a Ruth," if you will, and also, how would she go about doing this? (Obviously, the situation is different cause this guy isn't Michelle's "kinsman redeemer", but ya know!) ;)

So, Making Home readers, full of wisdom and a variety of life experiences, what say you? How would you advise Michelle in this situation? What would you say to her if she was your friend and came to you for advice? Leave your answers in the comments!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Show & Tell: Socialization, Transracial Adoption, and other interesting finds

One excellent article I read this week that I really want to highlight is by Terry, who blogs over at Ornaments of Grace, called "Living in Neverland". Here's an excerpt:
"The medical and scientific community have concluded in recent years that adolescence-the final stage of childhood-ends at or around age 25. Yes, I said that 25 year olds are now considered adolescents. This is disturbing to me on a number of levels.

Given the progress and advancements of the last century it would stand to reason that this generation of young people would be better equipped to handle life and the responsibility of adulthood, not less. It's obvious that somewhere along the way we took a wrong turn."
GO READ the rest of this fantastic article.


  • My friend, Renee, wrote a very sweet post as a adoptive mom who parents several sons from Ethiopia (they're currently in the process to adopt two more from Ghana!)
  • Here's an interesting interview about transracial adoption with good advice for parents about teaching our kids that they are created in God's image! (I think it's good advice regardless of whether you've adopted transracially or not... he hits some very important points in this brief interview.)


  • My friend Jazzy wrote an excellent "answer" to the oft-asked question asked of homeschooling parents: "What about socialization?"
  • WOW! Christine writes a thought-provoking SELF-CHECK TEST for homeschooling moms. But frankly, for any parent, this is a convicting list of questions to ask yourself to see how your philosophy lines up with your practice!



And, as always, here's the LAUGH you may need today! Go check out Steph's video post, iBible. Happy reading!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - Square Foot Gardening & The Environment

Today over fifteen thousand blogs with twelve million readers will be blogging on one topic - The Environment. Each of my blogs are participating, each from a different perspective so be sure to read them all.Square Foot Garden Bed2006If you have been reading this blog you will know we moved here in late June so have not set up the new vegetable and herb beds. When deciding on an environmental

Titus Two Today, Part Two: You as the Younger Woman

[Ed. Note: I was excited to see the response to my earlier post, when I was trying to measure the interest in this idea of "What is Titus 2 Mentoring?" I'm going to slowly go about tackling this issue from a variety of angles through a series of posts. I'm honest enough with myself to acknowledge that I'm not very good at persevering and tackling all sides of an issue in a short period of time, but I will continue returning to this subject as my interest and your questions keep me motivated to keep writing, reading, and thinking about it. :) -Jess]


The first way we will approach this subject, individually in our lives, and collectively as we study this subject here, is as the younger woman. Even if one has come to Christ as an older woman, she still must learn about biblical womanhood from the Word of God, and often, through the influence and wisdom of a more mature Christian woman.

So how do we, when we are the younger/less mature woman, go about being "Titus Twoed"? (Yes, I'm going to be using Titus Two in all sorts of interesting grammatical usages, so be ready for it!) How do we go about learning from older women?

I believe there are two basic elements: RESPECT and HUMILITY.

It is not easy to open up your life to another woman. We all make it to womanhood with some bumps and bruises from junior-high-type interactions that taught us that women can totally shred each other (often leaving us feeling completely incompetent, ugly, worthless, whatever). Right? I mean, let's just own up to it-- we women aren't always the easiest to be true, transparent friends with.

We women sometimes hold grudges more than we should. Too often, we allow a critical spirit and roots of bitterness and judgmentalism to grow in our hearts. And even if we don't externally say a word, many of us are quite good at critiquing and pronouncing internal judgments about the other women in our church, community, and circles of interaction.

Knowing ourselves and our own critical ways, we may take a long time to "warm up" to other women, suspecting them to be every bit as cutting as we ourselves may be. Perhaps you aren't overly critical of others... but perhaps you were hurt as a child or as a young woman and you find it difficult to trust anyone. Perhaps you're naturally reserved and have always found it difficult to truly open up to any other person. Maybe you don't even know the depths of your own heart, and find the prospect of being honest with yourself a big enough obstacle without adding in the fearful notion of opening up to someone else.

Whatever the case, we need to recognize that however difficult it is for us (as the younger/less mature woman) to admit the NEED for a mentor, it is that much MORE difficult for older women to risk their hearts by opening up their lives to us. And we need to respect them for that choice, to deliberately obey the Word of God and "teach the younger women". In so doing, a woman will have to be insightful enough to accurately assess their "victories" and "successes", humble enough to admit the areas where/when they didn't do well, and open enough to let you see the real them, warts and all. That's not easy for any woman, and we need to respect them for the risk they're taking in obeying this command of the Word of God.

We know up front that some "younger women" come with more initial knowledge than others. Perhaps you grew up in the church and have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by examples of godly women, being keepers at home, loving their husband and children. Or some women might come to Christ at an older age and already have practical experience of keeping a home, raising children, etc.

But most of us, particularly in this day & age, grew up with little or no examples in this area. We were entrenched in a society that valued a job- ANY job- over the job of homemaker. We were raised with messages that told us that men weren't any different from us, and that we were not only equal, but that our equality meant SAME-ness. With the rise of a feminist culture, we didn't see women wholeheartedly embracing their God-given responsibilities in the home. For the most part, we didn't see submissive women working at home, except in parodies and oft-derided 50's-era TV shows.

SO, with that in mind, let's just admit that as the younger woman,: WE DON'T KNOW IT ALL. Sometimes, it can come across like we do know it all. Perhaps we have earned a "degree" in early childhood education, psychology, or sociology and really do know about certain things; perhaps the woman mentoring us doesn't have a college degree at all. Without humility, that kind of relationship isn't going to work- the younger woman will feel like she knows it all, just because she read some books, and the older woman may feel intimidated by a younger woman who has a degree (as the world around us has certainly worked its harm on the psyches of older woman as well).

But if you haven't raised a child, and if you haven't been married for 20+ years, then you really don't know about how to do those things.... even if you've read four or more YEARS worth of textbooks with skads of statistics and facts. So we, as the younger women, must be humble enough to admit that there are things that we DON'T know.

We must be humble enough to admit that even though we THINK we know how we would "deal with that unruly kid" or "nip that in the bud if it happened in my marriage", until we've walked that path, we really DON'T know. I am confident that it is MUCH easier to say what we "would do" when we have never had teenagers, but even if we DO end up doing a good job of it later, it will take much more hard work than we realize on this side of it all.

All that to say, there are things we need to do if we're really going to benefit from Titus-Twoing. And I think two of the MAIN things we need to do are to be respectful and to be humble.

These are my general thoughts today. Any comments, questions, thoughts about this that you'd like to add? Or is there anything specific you'd like me to tackle as we go on through the series? Let me know; I always love hearing from you!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Well hello everyone! Haven't had anything profound to blog about lately, but I have been taking photos of my little home. Often, customers will ask if my home looks like my shop. Wellll, yes and no. So I decided the best thing to do was take some pics and keep them at the shop to show people how,and with what,I live. You will notice first off the lack of color. I LOVE white and use it everywhere. I also love oatmeal and blue and use those colors as accents. So, without further adeu, here is a sample of my little corner of the world for you to enjoy.

Blessings to all,


Friday, October 12, 2007

A Birthiversary Blogabration

This weekend, in honor of our annual birthiversary celebration (my birthday is the 13th and our anniversary is the 14th, celebrating 28 and 7 years respectively), and due to the fact that I will be mentally nowhere near blogging for the next 2 days, I'm going to begin what I hope will be an annual "Birthiversary Blogabration". How's that for combining words in an alliterative fashion? :)

[Ed. Note: picture at right from last year's anniversary celebration... Sunset on a bridge over a river in the middle of Asia after a lovely dinner and a donkey cart ride through the town we lived in]

Here are MY picks for my favorite one or two posts/series from each month from the last year of blogging (and since this is my first go-round you actually get a BONUS TWO MONTHS, because I actually began blogging last August, aren't you blessed?). PLEASE pick one or two and go browse and "ketchup" on some old reading... and while you're at it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of these ancient writings... I always love to hear from you!

AUGUST 2006:







FEBRUARY 2007: (Yes, I know I had a lot to say...)



MARCH 2007:


APRIL 2007:


MAY 2007:


JUNE 2007:


JULY 2007:


AUGUST 2007:




I hope this gives you plenty to read and ponder over the next couple days... it definitely took me down memory lane. And I'm 100% SERIOUS~ I'd love to hear your comments... even if it's on a WAY-old post!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ADVICE & ANSWERS: In-Law/Parent Relationships as a Newlywed?

Allison, a newly married Making Home reader, brings this question today:

I am a young wife, ( I'm 19), and my husband and I have been married for not quite 4 months. The city we live in could be considered a "college-town," and my husband and I met at church while he was a student there. It is also my hometown, so until the day of our wedding, I lived at home with my parents and younger brother.

Now that I've given you a little background, my question is basically this - what should my relationship with my parents look like now that I am married? I realize that they are no longer my source of authority, but that my husband is. My question is not so much one of authority, but of time and relationship. How much time is appropriate to spend with them? What are some basic "Do's" and "Dont's?"

So what would you say to this newlywed? What advice would you give, from the Bible, from your experiences, and from what you've seen in your own life and the lives of others? I look forward to reading the advice you'd give to Allison!


NasturtiumsOctober 7, 20007When we moved here in June I was not expecting any edible plants so I was quite pleased to discover strawberries and parsley. A few weeks ago I noticed the greens of nasturtiums. When they began flowering I was elated. I had planted nasturtiums a couple of years ago in my old gardens. For some reason they did not reseed so I planted them again. With the move, the

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

President Bush and Syncretism

  • the combination of different systems of philosophical or religious belief or practice -Encarta
  • A movement aimed at establishing a harmony between apparently opposing positions in philosophy or theology. - Oxford University Press

Consider these quotes from President Bush
(from his interview with Al Arabiya, Oct. 4, 2007). I will leave them in their paragraph form, lest anyone accuse me of taking these things out of context:
Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren't religious people, whether they be a Christian who does that -- we had a person blow up our -- blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City who professed to be a Christian, but that's not a Christian act to kill innocent people.
Then a bit further down in the interview he continues defining his theology:
On the other hand, the ultimate way for peace is for people to realize the great blessings of liberty. And what's interesting, and what has taken place ought to be hopeful to people in the Middle East, is that two young democracies have sprung up where people, when given a chance, voted. See, I believe there is a universal God. I believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God that I pray to. After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality. And I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom. I really do. And I think people, if given a chance, will seize freedom. And it's liberty and free societies -- not -- they don't have to look like America -- an Iraqi democracy is going to be Iraqi, it's going to reflect Iraqi traditions and Iraqi history.

Thanks to the BaylyBlog for bringing this interview to my attention.

I wonder what you all think about this? Not just a President who is a syncretist, but a President who claimed complete faith in Jesus Christ alone now saying that the God he prays to is the same as Allah is the same as "any other religion"'s god.

This is disappointing, but not altogether surprising, news for me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Gardening!Garden Gnome©2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Huldah: Housewife & Mouthpiece of God


Not a very "high profile" biblical woman. Not a name you hear every day, or even every year, even if you are a very active church member. Not a woman who would stand out in your mind, even if you've read the Bible through many times before.

But what an example she is for each of us!

This woman, briefly mentioned in 2 Chronicles 34 & 35, was used to turn a nation back to God after years of idolatry and evil had all but erased Israel's relationship with YHWH. Here's how she's introduced-- the King's advisors go to "Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum" and begin telling her about King Josiah's desire to follow the laws of God.

She wasn't, as far as is biblically recorded, a prophetess in the usual sense we think of it: as a God-endorsed and fully accurate weather forecaster of far-future events. No, she simply was a mouthpiece of God. She had HIS words in her heart, ready to speak to powerful men. Her words gave a King confirmation of his need to follow God, and because of her words, her generation lived at peace with God.

Though she was a prophetess, she did not live in exile as many prophets of those days had to do, but as Gien Karssen points out in Her Name is Woman, Book 2, "she was a housewife". Like me and maybe you, she was simply an ordinary women with ordinary daily tasks. She wasn't a queen or woman of significance, and she isn't regularly held up as an example for us. She cared for her husband and ran a household, but in the midst of these ordinary tasks, she carried out God's calling on her life. God Himself spoke through her, and because she KNEW the Words of God, "she could freely exhort and encourage other people with it."

We, too, should be women who know God's Word and can freely speak when given the opportunity. All too often, because we have neglected the Word and have not given it its proper place and authority in our lives, when the opportunity comes to speak, we either hesitate and say nothing or we give human wisdom, derived from Oprah, Dr. Phil, or the latest marriage/parenting book we've read.

Instead, we should be women who, like Huldah, speak the Word of God without hesitation anytime we have the opportunity. And with that, I need to get into the Word this afternoon. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Marriage Without Children

Recently, a reader asked, basically, this question: "would it be sinful for a woman to marry if she knows she does not want children?" I opened up the question for discussion, and you can read the answers given by other readers HERE.

But, honestly, I had to weigh in on this question. There is much to say, but let me start out by saying that two observations need to be made:
  1. Not until this century would this question even be asked... because not until this century was this kind of arrangement (an intentionally childless marriage) actually a possibility... every marriage, Christian or no, for thousands of years, by God's earliest design (see Genesis 1:27-28), has been intrinsically linked to the *possibility* of children.
  2. Even still, once the question is asked, it is still somewhat absurd to the extent that NO birth control (except for abstinence, which is OUT for all Christian married people--see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5) is foolproof.
So, regardless of whether or not the desire for a marriage without children is in and of itself sinful, the question itself is impractical and foolish at best. Children may feasibly come to ANYONE who is sexually intimate.

Now, as to the sinfulness of such a desire... I could say a lot, but Al Mohler has written much more eloquently than I am able on this issue. Here's an excerpt of his article "Deliberate Childlessness":
Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift. The Psalmist declared: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." [Psalm 127: 3-5]

Morally speaking, the epidemic in this regard has nothing to do with those married couples who desire children but are for any reason unable to have them, but in those who are fully capable of having children but reject this intrusion in their lifestyle.

The motto of this new movement of chosen childlessness could be encapsulated by the bumper sticker put out by the Zero Population Growth group in the 1970s: "MAKE LOVE, NOT BABIES." This is the precise worldview the Scripture rejects. Marriage, sex, and children are part of one package. To deny any part of this wholeness is to reject God's intention in creation--and His mandate revealed in the Bible.

The sexual revolution has had many manifestations, but we can now see that modern Americans are determined not only to liberate sex for marriage [and even from gender], but also from procreation.

The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order.

Couples are not given the option of chosen childlessness in the biblical revelation. To the contrary, we are commanded to receive children with joy as God's gifts, and to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to find many of our deepest joys and satisfactions in the raising of children within the context of the family. Those who reject children want to have the joys of sex and marital companionship without the responsibilities of parenthood. They rely on others to produce and sustain the generations to come.
He goes on:
... the family is a critical arena where the glory of God is either displayed or denied. It is just as simple as that.

The church must help this society regain its sanity on the gift of children. Willful barrenness and chosen childlessness must be named as moral rebellion. To demand that marriage means sex--but not children--is to defraud the creator of His joy and pleasure in seeing the saints raising His children.

We, as Christians, ought not to follow the world's lead, using arguments that are derived more from a focus on human "happiness" or what is politically correct. We ought to be a people that sees God's design and uphold that design and all that it implies about how we are to live our lives. A people who looks to His WORD as our standard rather than human feelings. A people who is willing to stand up for the truth that the Word speaks about family, marriage, and children, rather than using world-based logic about these issues.

For example, God's first command to the first man and woman was to "be fruitful and multiply". Children were an intrinsic part of the original *design* of marriage. Children are repeatedly called "blessings" and conversely, childlessness was always taken by biblical characters to be a curse, never a good thing. Jesus Himself modeled a receptive attitude towards ALL children when He chastised his disciples and said "let all the little children come to me." And these are just some examples off of the top of my head.

There is nothing in Scripture that remotely comes close to "well, it seems wrong to deny a person something GOOD just because she's not keen on following God's design". Rather, what we see over and over again in Scripture is the idea of taking up one's cross and submitting yourself to the will of the Father. A focus on personal "happiness" or "fulfillment" isn't ours to focus on... abundant life comes from following the will of God.

Now, singleness is definitely the option for this woman, as this is a calling for certain people, and as this is an admirable choice, if you are going to do work for God's Kingdom with the time/energy/etc. that you are then not putting into a family. Biblically speaking, unless her heart is changed to be open to whatever God brings to her marriage (sickness/health, rich/poor, children/infertility), she ought not consider marriage. Period.

But to be deliberately childless simply for reasons of our own ease, desire, or plans, I believe, is simply NOT an option for a Christian marriage.

Further thoughts on this issue? Comments?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...